Better known as a songwriter, Guy's always-brilliant albums never sold in big quantities. Maybe Guy's voice didn't appeal to mainstream country radio, or maybe his lake of stage presence when performing live counted against him. Although he never became a major star, Guy built up a significant fan base in Britain and America. More significantly, other singers appreciated the quality of his songs and have recorded many of them as well as lending their support on Guy's own recordings. Thus, even if you've never heard any of Guy's own music, you may well have heard some of his songs. This twofer contains Guy's two albums for RCA - the first two albums of his career.
Guy's debut album (Old No 1) occupies the first ten tracks here and is generally regarded as the best album of his career. Among the stars providing harmony vocals are Rodney Crowell, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle and Sammi Smith. It is extraordinary to think that Steve Earle (whose own music was influenced by Guy's to some extent) didn't make his own breakthrough until more than a decade after this album was recorded. The set opens with Rita Ballou, later covered by Vince Gill (you can find it on his breakthrough album, When I call your name). The most famous songs here are LA freeway (a minor American hit for Jerry Jeff Walker), Texas 1947 (covered by Johnny Cash) and Desperadoes waiting for a train (covered by many different artists).
Following the critical acclaim of his debut, Guy followed it up with the almost equally brilliant Texas cooking, which occupies the last ten tracks here. Rodney and Emmylou again provide harmony, this time joined by Jerry Jeff Walker, Nicolette Larson, Waylon Jennings, Hoyt Axton and Tracy Nelson among others. Further classic songs are to be found here including The last gunfighter ballad (later covered by Johnny Cash).
Subsequent albums provided further songs for others to record including Heartbroke (Ricky Skaggs), She's crazy for leaving (Rodney Crowell) and Old friends (Lacy J Dalton). Guy's versions of those songs can be found elsewhere.
Whatever the reasons for Guy's lack of commercial success, he has proved his worth as a songwriter while there are enough people (including me) who appreciate his music to warrant record companies re-issuing his old material.